Saturday, January 9, 2010

African Cup of Nations

One thousand nine hundred and ninety nine. This is not the result of a new fantasy formula devised to help you pick your team this week: it is the distance between Cabinda, Angola and Cape Town. I don't often depart from fantasy talk on here but I feel that the recent attacks in Angola need further comment.

The events in the troubled Cabinda region are tragic and of course raise issues about the current African Cup of Nations tournament, particularly why the Togolese team were traveling by bus through the disputed territory. However, the parallels drawn between this event and the World Cup in South Afrcia are at best mis-guided and at worst, ignorant.

"Once again, the world of sport has been dragged into the news spotlight with tragic consequences. And, with the World Cup looming on the horizon, it could not have come at a worse time for the continent of Africa" (ESPN)

""I am appalled. This throws a question mark against next summer's World Cup. You simply cannot put the safety of players, officials and fans at the slightest risk. That is totally unacceptable" (Phil Brown in The Sun)

I fail to see how these events affect South Africa anymore than a crisis in Bosnia would affect the London Olympics. Bosnia is within 1,000 miles of London but I'm sure no-one would assume that all European countries have the same issues. So why do we refer to Africa as if it's issues can be applied across all it's countries? With over 1 billion people, 53 countries, over 2,000 languages and 5 time zones Africa is probably the most diverse continent on earth and cannot be easily summarised by scholars such as Phil Brown.

The attacks have been reported by focusing on just two issues: (1) the security of the British based players and (2) the affect on the World Cup in South Africa. I think we would all do well to remember that the bus driver was killed and that while mistakes have clearly been made, we cannot simply dismiss the incident as an 'African problem'. Recalling the British players is all well and good but that is a typical response by the Western powers to an African issue - retreat. The people of Angola do not have such a luxury and perhaps we should address the issue rather than just protecting those lucky enough to brought into our consciousness.

I hope that the tournament can go ahead without further issues and that the critics of African football will be silenced. It seems that playing in the troubled Chabinda region may have been a mistake, but not one that should condemn an entire continent.

7 comments:

David said...

As a real-life, walking, talking south african myself i can tell you that our country is part of "darkest africa" largely by name only and anyone who wants to imply otherwise is as ignorant as Franck Ribery looks like Quasimodo. We have tarred roads and airports and corn flakes and bikinis and Terry Paine on SuperSport. Urban South Africa is a first world country.

South Africa is politically stable and the only threat at the world cup is terrorism and, to be honest, the british are pretty crap at preventing that themselves anyway. i guarantee the only high profile victim of crime during the WC will be a stupid brazilian tourist who gets mugged by a gang of nigerians because he was walking along the durban beachfront at 1am playing with his i-phone.

The world cup is going to be awesome and the world will know how far we've come since apartheid.

Chris Glover said...

Well said David. I wish we had more people like yourself here in England to speak out in favour of the world cup in South Africa. I really want to attend what will be a great event and incidents like this will have no bearing on my decision. Thanks for contributing.

People should also remember that a bomb went off in Atlanta on the eve of the '96 Olympics but no one was as concerned then. No athletics coach asking for his hurdler to be sent home. The hypocrisy is outrageous.

auburn.tigers2011 said...

Interesting you posted this article today because just yesterday I had a conversation about the safety of South Africa with one of my friends (totally unrelated to the Togo bus attack). The stat that SA is 2nd in the world in muder rates (only behind Columbia) caught my attention.

I have every intention of making my way to SA and am somewhat committed after buying plane and game tikets to 4 games. So, I did some fairly extensive research and what I concluded is to use your brain and not be a dumbass. Exactly as Dvid said, you shouldn't be walking by yourself or even with a small group after dark and/or in sketchy areas.

I would like to ask though, has anyone heard specifically what SA is doing for security? How ramped up is it going to be? I read somewhere that they are bringing in some outside security agencies and even the military will be involved.

Chris Glover said...

Yeh I figure I will use the same caution as I would in any foreign city I am unfamiliar with. My girlfriends parents live across the border from Detroit and I wouldnt wander round some areas there with my iPod and tourist map. But, Detroit has some awesome sights too.
I think a major event in SA is just too good to miss. I love the culture and the sights and I am convinced it will be a huge success for football and the country.

Not sure about the security - perhaps David could tell you more. Either way I think both of you are right - be smart and you'll be fine.

Chris Glover said...

Once again Wenger is the shining example when it comes to common sense.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jan/10/arsene-wenger-questions-motivation-african

The motivation for managers like Phil Brown is for their own team, not the 'safety' of players.

David said...

OMG, just saw the bolton/arsenal delayed game has been rescheduled for this gw. so it's ars-bol, bol-ars double. ridiculous! glad I kept arshavin, fab, cahill. Not mention valencia and rooney for the utd double.

It's time to cash in on the snow.

Steven said...

Agreed David. I actually picked up Kuszczak as well considering the fixtures. Risky with their back line being depleted, but their opponents are pretty weak.